Confronting History, and the IRGC, in Iran

Confronting History, and the IRGC, in Iran

In the summer of 1999, during one of the most notable periods of social unrest in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, an ominous letter signed by 24 leaders of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution Corps (also known as the IRGC or Sepah e Pasdaran) was delivered to then-President Mohammad Khatami.

In what amounted to an ultimatum, the IRGC leaders expressed their grave concern about the direction taken by the reformist movement, which at the time controlled both the legislative and executive branches of the Iranian government. The letter warned Khatami that the IRGC feared for the survival of the Islamic regime, and would not remain idle if his government continued with liberal policies that were bound to undermine it.

That infamous letter, reportedly delivered with the full knowledge of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, effectively tipped the balance of the debate regarding the future of the Islamic Republic. Significantly, many of the officers behind it have played prominent roles in confronting the current upheaval in Iran. They include Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid, deputy chairman of the IRGC's Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Ghasem Suleimani, commander of the IRGC's elite Quds Force; Hussein Hamedani, commander of the Tehran Basij force; and, most notably, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari, chief commander of the IRGC.

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